Affordable housing is a short term for a complex field encompassing a range of housing types, myriad local and federal funding programs, regulations such as Inclusionary Zoning (IZ) governing private development, and much more. HUD defines affordable housing as that for which the occupant pays no more than 30 percent of gross income for housing costs, including utilities. However, affordable housing in this document will use definitions based on income levels that guide public policy and funding in DC.
In 2019 Mayor Muriel Bowser issued a report, Rock Creek West Roadmap #36,000 by 2025:
This document, the Rock Creek West Roadmap, is an important tool for government, business, and community to align around how and where we build housing and affordable housing. The Roadmap recognizes the unique housing context of Rock Creek West and identifies several nearterm opportunities to significantly increase the supply of affordable housing and tools that can be used to realize those opportunities. https://housing.dc.gov/sites/default/files/dc/sites/housingdc/publication/attachments/RCW%20Roadmap_12.16. 21.pdf
Simply understanding affordable housing terminology can be a tool for effective advocacy to reach the mayor’s goal of 1990 new affordable housing units for Rock Creek West by 2025.
Housing Cost Continuum
- Market rate housing is any unit owner or renter occupied, that is available for sale or occupancy at the prevailing market value for the area and may include single-family homes, condominiums, cooperatives or rental units. Virtually all new Class A buildings with many amenities are market rate and are required to set aside only a small number of affordable units if the buildings have 10 or more units.
- Naturally occurring affordable housing (NOAH) refers to residential rental properties that are affordable but are unsubsidized by any federal or local program. Rents are relatively low compared to the regional housing market and are typically found in Class B and Class C rental buildings or complexes built between 1940 and 1990. NOAH may include rent-controlled housing built before 1976.
- Affordable Dwelling Unit (ADU) refers to for-sale and for-rent homes that are locally restricted for occupancy and generally offered at a below-market rate. The DC Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) monitors and enforces compliance with ADU requirements in the District of Columbia.
- Dedicated affordable housing is limited to people with certain incomes and is created through subsidized government programs such as the Housing Production Trust Fund (HPTF), project sponsored vouchers, public housing, Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC); or through regulations on private development such as Inclusionary Zoning (IZ).
- Public housing is subsidized housing established to provide decent and safe rental housing for eligible low-income families, the elderly, and persons with disabilities.
- Common terms
- “Cost burdened” households spend more than 30% of their income on housing.
- “Severely cost burdened” households spend more than 50% of their income on housing.
Dedicated Affordable Housing Eligibility
Affordable housing may be means tested so that eligibility for certain types of housing is limited to individuals and families whose incomes and/or assets fall below a pre-determined threshold (means test). Median Family Income (MFI) is, therefore, a starting point in understanding affordable housing types, financing, and regulations.
Area Median Income/Median Family Income: Washington Metropolitan Statistical Area
2021 Median Family Income (MFI), previously referred to as Area Median Income (AMI) is
$129,000 for a household of four. (See: https://dhcd.dc.gov/publication/2021–inclusionary–zoningmaximum–income–rent–and–purchase–price–schedule and DC Council Code) • extremely low-income: household income ≤ 30% AMI = ≤ $43,000
- very low-income: household income between 31-50% AMI = ≤$64,500
- low-income: household income between 51-80% AMI = ≤$103,200
Public Financing and Regulatory Programs for Affordable Housing by DC Agency
#1: All the information in this section was taken directly from DC agency web sites. We have asked DMPED to review it to ensure its accuracy.
#2: To apply for affordable housing funds find the latest version of 2021 Consolidated Request for Proposals for Affordable Housing Projects
DC Dept. of Housing and Community Development (DHCD)
• Cash 2 Covenant Program (C2C)
Multifamily property owners with vacant units in the Rock Creek West planning area were able to submit proposals to an RFP released by DHCD in January 2022 for a financial incentive to place an affordability covenant on their property. Units covenanted under the program will remain affordable for at least 15-years and be affordable at or below 80% of the Median Family Income (MFI). A formula will consider affordability, covenant duration, and unit characteristics among other factors to determine how much financial incentive will be provided for a particular unit. https://mayor.dc.gov/release/mayor–bowser–unveils–new–tools–add–affordable–housing
• Community Development Block Grants (CDBG)
DHCD receives Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The CDBG program is DC’s most flexible funding resource and can be used for both housing and non-housing activities, including those that revitalize neighborhoods, promote economic development, and improve community facilities, infrastructure, and services in low- and moderate-income communities. Examples of CDBG-funded activities include housing rehabilitation and homebuyer loans, housing development financing, small business technical assistance, and neighborhood revitalization projects. State and local grantees must have a current and approved
Consolidated Plan, which will include an action plan that describes how the jurisdiction will use its CDBG funds. A grantee also must develop and follow a detailed plan that provides for and encourages citizen participation.
• Community Housing Development Organizations (CHDOs)
CHDOs are eligible for certain set-aside funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Home Investment Partnerships (HOME) Program (which is governed by federal regulations at 24 C.F.R. Part 92). To use CHDO set-aside funds, CHDOs must be certified as owners, developers, or sponsors of HOME-assisted affordable housing.
Funding may be available for the following types of activities:
- Development projects: Including new construction or acquisition and/or rehabilitation of rental housing, transitional housing units or single-family homes for homeownership opportunities (including project-specific down payment/closing cost assistance)
- Operating funds: In conjunction with a development project.
• First Right Purchase Assistance Program (FRPP)
Offers low-interest loans to income-qualified persons and tenant groups in DC to be used for down payment, earnest money deposits, purchase, legal/architectural/engineering fees. Programs under FRPP include:
- Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Assistance (TOPA)
The “Rental Housing Conversion and Sale Act of 1980,” under which falls the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA), states that tenants in buildings up for sale must be offered the first opportunity to buy the building. DC encourages tenants to exercise this right—it stabilizes city neighborhoods, combats urban displacement, and helps tenants become homeowners. With DHCD’s assistance, the tenant groups are able to purchase the building and convert the units into cooperatives or condominiums.
- District Opportunity to Purchase (DOPA)
The District Opportunity to Purchase Act (DOPA) promotes affordable rental housing by maintaining the status of existing affordable rental units as well as increasing the total number of affordable rental units within DC. To this end, DOPA requires rental property owners to provide the District of Columbia with the opportunity to purchase housing accommodations consisting of five or more rental units, as long as 25 percent or more of those rental units are deemed as “affordable.” In the statute, DC’s right to purchase is subordinate to a tenant’s right to purchase under the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA).
- Employer-Assisted Housing Program (EAHP) offers eligible District government employees a deferred, 0% interest loan and a matching funds grant for down payment and closing costs to purchase their first single family home, condominium, or cooperative unit in DC. There is no income cap for EAHP applicants, nor is there a cash contribution requirement. The maximum purchase price of a property under EAHP is $765,600 based on the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac maximum conventional loan limit for the District of Columbia. The provision of EAHP assistance is subject to funding availability. https://dhcd.dc.gov/service/employer–assisted–housing–program–eahp
• Green Building in Washington, DC
With the passage of The Green Building Act of 2006, Washington, DC joined states and cities across the country in requiring green building design and construction. DHCD requires that all residential projects submitted for financing conduct an integrated design charrette to explore the most cost-effective ways to incorporate green building standards. The integrated design charrette is a mandatory element of the Green Communities Criteria which residential projects are required to meet. DHCD with the DC Green Communities Initiative (Enterprise Community Partners and GreenHOME) offers up to $5,000 in grant funds to conduct integrated design charrettes for non-profit sponsored affordable housing projects. https://dhcd.dc.gov/service/build–green–dc and www.greencommunitiesonline.org
• Historic Homeowner Grant Program
DC offers financial assistance to low- and moderate-income homeowners to help with the cost of repairing their historic homes. These targeted non-taxable grants are available for exterior and structural work on historic buildings in fifteen DC historic districts and on landmarks. The grant program is administered by the DC Historic Preservation Office (HPO). The maximum grant is $25,000, except in the Anacostia Historic District, where the maximum grant is $35,000. https://planning.dc.gov/node/1467171
• Home Investment Partnership Funds (HOME)
The Department of Housing and Community Development receives Home Investment
Partnerships (HOME) program funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The HOME program supports building, buying, and/or rehabilitating affordable housing for rent and homeownership and provides direct rental assistance to lowincome residents. HOME is the largest federal block grant to state and local governments designed exclusively to create affordable housing for low-income households. https://dhcd.dc.gov/page/home–investment–partnerships–home–program and HUD HOME Program Rents
• Home Purchase Assistance Program (HPAP)
The Home Purchase Assistance Program provides interest-free loans and closing cost assistance to qualified applicants to purchase single family houses, condominiums, or cooperative units in DC. The loan amount is based on a combination of factors, including income, household size, and the amount of assets that each applicant must commit toward a property’s purchase. The loan is subordinate to a private first trust mortgage.
Eligible applicants can receive a maximum of $80,000 in gap financing assistance and an additional $4,000 in closing cost assistance. The HPAP loan for borrowers with incomes below 80 percent of the area median income (AMI) is deferred until the property is sold, refinanced to take out equity, or is no longer their primary residence. Moderate-income borrowers who earn between 80 percent and 110 percent AMI will have payments deferred for five years with a 40-year principal-only repayment period. The maximum first trust loan amount cannot exceed $510,400, the conventional conforming loan limit.
• Housing Preservation Fund (HPF)
The DC Housing Preservation Strike Force recommended the creation of a private-public preservation fund as one of six critical strategies to preserve affordable rental housing in the District. The goal of the preservation fund is to preserve the affordability of 100% of DC’s existing federally and city-assisted affordable rental homes. It offers eligible borrowers shortterm financing for the pre-development and acquisition of occupied multi-family properties with more than five (5) housing units and half of the households earning up to 80% MFI for a family of four. Along with other private and philanthropic investments, funds can quickly provide short-term bridge acquisition and pre-development financing to eligible borrowers.
• Housing Production Trust Fund (HPTF)
The Housing Production Trust Fund (HPTF) is the major tool used to produce and preserve affordable housing in the District of Columbia. It is a special revenue fund administered by DHCD’s Development and Finance Division (DFD) that provides gap financing for projects affordable to low- and moderate- income households.
The HPFT was created by the Housing Production Trust Fund Act of 1988, which requires that each fiscal year:
- At least 50 percent of HPTF spending serves households with incomes below 30 percent of the area median income (AMI).
- At least another 40 percent of expenditures serve households with incomes between 30 percent and 50 percent AMI.
- The balance of funds can serve households with incomes up to 80 percent AMI.
- Generally, at least 50 percent of the funds disbursed are dedicated toward providing rental housing. https://dhcd.dc.gov/sites/default/files/dc/sites/dhcd/publication/attachments/2021%20HPTF%20Program%20Li mits%2008242021.pdf
The HPTF provides financing in a variety of ways to include:
- Pre-development loans for nonprofit housing developers.
- Financing for site acquisition, construction loan guarantees, collateral, or operating capital.
- Bridge loans and gap financing to reduce up-front costs and costs of residential development and to keep a housing project in operation if circumstances change adversely during development.
- Outreach and housing production counseling and technical assistance to individuals or groups interested in producing affordable housing, such as tenant groups who want to buy their buildings under the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA).
- Loans to develop housing and provide housing services for low- and very low-income elderly persons with special needs.
- Loans or grants to finance on-site child development facilities for proposed housing or commercial facilities.
- Grants for architectural designs for adaptive re-use of previously nonresidential structures.
• Industrial Revenue Bond Program (IRB)
DC’s industrial revenue bond program (IRB) provides access to tax-exempt financing to help businesses and non-profit organizations renovate and build new construction, make tenant improvements, and purchase capital by securing interest rates up to 4% lower than a traditional commercial loan. IRB can be used to finance, refinance, and reimburse the costs of acquiring, constructing, restoring, rehabilitating, expanding, improving, equipping, or furnishing real property and related subordinate facilities including housing and a wide variety of other projects. More than $11.5 billion has been issued through Washington, DC’s IRB program since 1994. Non-profit organizations and manufacturing businesses locating within the District are generally eligible for the IRB program. Other businesses may be eligible as well depending on the type of good or service produced and the location of their site within Washington, DC. https://dmped.dc.gov/dc–revenue–bond–program
• Limited Equity Cooperatives (LEC)
In a LEC project, a government agency or nonprofit organization limits the resale price of membership shares to keep the housing affordable to incoming low- and moderate-income members. LECs are collectively owned by the residents, and each household owns a share in the building. Each household pays monthly costs, or carrying charges, for a unit from the collectively owned building. However, unlike market-rate cooperatives, the resale price is restricted to retain affordability. In other words, an owner who sells a share in the building does not receive the full market appreciation on the share. The LEC acts as an affordable housing asset for the individual household and the community in which the property resides. Note: As of February 2022, the DC City Council was considering tax abatement legislation for LECs.
• Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC)
The Low Income Housing Tax Credit is a federal program administered through the IRS, provides non-competitive 4 percent or competitive 9 percent Low Income Housing Tax Credits to developers of new or rehabilitated rental housing for the production of housing affordable to low- and moderate-income persons at or below 60 percent of Area Median Income. Created by the Tax Reform Act of 1986, the LIHTC program is designed to encourage the private sector to invest in the construction and rehabilitation of housing for low- and moderate-income individuals and families. Project owner/investors can claim the LIHTC on their federal income tax return each year for a period of 10 full years. However, projects generally must meet certain requirements for low-income use for 30 years. https://dhcd.dc.gov/publication/2021–low–income–housing–tax–credit–qualified–allocation–plan–qap
• National Housing Trust Fund (HTF)
Established in the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, HTF is targeted to building, rehabilitating, preserving, and operating of rental housing for extremely low-income people. 100 percent of each state’s allocation must benefit households at or below the federal extremely low income (ELI) level, which is 30 percent of Area Median Income (AMI), or households with income below federal poverty level, whichever is greater. In the District, the ELI level is greater than the federal poverty level.
Given the requirements of the program and the need for rental housing affordable to ELI households in the city, DC uses NHTF program funds to develop newly constructed Permanent Supportive Housing for homeless individuals and families consistent with the Priority Needs and the Strategic Plan’s Goals laid out in the District’s Consolidated Plan.
NHTF funding is blended with other federal and local funding resources, including Project Based Rental Assistance, to finance properties that include these units. The terms of competitive solicitations may specify deeper targeting and lower maximum rents for NHTF units than those in the federal Interim Rule.
• Negotiated Employee Assistance Home Purchase Program (NEAHP) The District of Columbia’s Negotiated Employee Assistance Home Purchase Program grant (NEAHP) is to provide down payment and closing costs assistance to use towards the purchase of primary residence in the District of Columbia. Certain government employees, whose position is covered by a collective bargaining agreement, can apply. The program, a joint labor management effort, is administered by the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) and the Office of Labor Relations and Collective Bargaining (OLRCB) with the assistance of the Greater Washington Urban League, Inc. (GWUL). The amount of assistance is determined by the number years of service in the eligible collective bargaining unit. The assistance ranges from $3,000 to $26,500 and is provided in the form of a grant that is forgiven after ten years as long as the employee meets the terms of the grant agreement.
• New Communities Initiative (NCI)
A DC government program designed to revitalize severely distressed subsidized housing and redevelop neighborhoods into vibrant mixed-income communities. The Initiative includes four neighborhoods in the District of Columbia: Barry Farm in Ward 8, Lincoln Heights – Richardson Dwelling in Ward 7, Northwest One in Ward 6, and Park Morton in Ward 1. The New Communities Initiative is funded through public bond financing that allows the city to leverage funding for development projects. Four guiding principles lay the framework for New Communities:
- One for One Replacement of existing affordable housing units to ensure that there is no net loss of the existing deeply subsidized units in the neighborhood.
- The Opportunity for Residents to Return/Stay in the Community to ensure that current residents will have a priority for new replacement units in an effort to remain in their neighborhood.
- Mixed-Income Housing to end the concentration of low-income housing and poverty.
- Build First calls for the development of new housing to begin prior to the demolition of existing distressed housing to minimize displacement.
As of February 2022, no NCI projects had been completed.
• Opportunity Zones in Washington, DC
Created in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, Opportunity Zones is a federal program that provides tax incentives for investments in new businesses and commercial projects in lowincome communities. Opportunity Zones is a federal tax incentive, and the benefits are applied to federal capital gains taxes. The District of Columbia also taxes capital gains. Per D.C. Act 23-407 Section 2021, District taxpayers can realize Opportunity Zones tax benefits at the District level for qualifying investments made by Qualified Opportunity Funds (QOFs) approved by the Mayor. 25 census tracts are included in Opportunity Zones. DC’s priorities for OZ investment include:
- Deliver new, neighborhood-serving amenities, such as retail and fresh food grocers
- Provide investment capital and growth opportunities for DC small businesses, particularly those led by underrepresented entrepreneurs
- Create jobs for DC residents and pathways to the middle class • Increase affordable and workforce housing
• Oramanta Newsome Nonprofit Development Fund (Newsome Fund)
The $2 million fund was launched in 2018 to help nonprofit developers secure capital for pre-development soft costs – a common obstacle when financing affordable housing projects. Through the fund, which is named after the late Oramenta Newsome, developers can receive loans of up to $100,000 per project. Ten projects have received pre-development financing from the initial funding round which will produce more affordable housing units for District residents. By providing early capital, the Newsome Fund can help qualified nonprofit organizations and limited equity cooperatives (LECs) meet the application requirements of
DHCD’s consolidated request for proposals (RFP) for affordable housing projects.
• Pilot for Supporting Faith Based Institutions in Developing Affordable Housing (Pilot Program)
DHCD invites applications from qualified for-profit corporations or non-profit/tax-exempt institutions capable of structuring, administering, and funding a program for faith-based institutions in Washington, D.C. to receive and leverage the resources available in this RFA to support the development of affordable housing in Washington, DC.
• Single Family Residential Rehabilitation Program (SFRRP)
Administers grants for roof repairs and/or modification to eliminate barriers to accessibility for persons with mobility or other physical impairments.
• Site Acquisition Funding Initiative (SAFI)
The Site Acquisition Funding Initiative is designed to provide quickly accessible, revolving loan funds for acquisition and predevelopment costs to nonprofit developers committed to the production, rehabilitation, and preservation of affordable housing. SAFI leverages DHCD funds with private monies for the preservation of affordable housing.
- Small Building Program (SBP) Department of Housing and Community Development’s (DHCD) Small Buildings Program (SBP) will provide funds for limited systems replacement and other key repairs to eligible property owners of affordable housing of five (5) to twenty (20) units. Repairs are expected to improve sub-standard housing conditions, including safety and environmental hazards in DC. Applicants that meet the following criteria should apply:
- Property owners of up to three rental housing properties whose income does not exceed 120% of Median Family Income (MFI) according to DHCD’s Inclusionary Zoning Income, Rent, and Purchase Price Schedule • Board of a Limited Equity Cooperative
• Tax Abatements for Affordable Housing in High-Needs Areas Amendment Act of 2020 (HANTA)
Effective December 3, 2020 (D.C. Law 23-149; D.C. Official Code § 47-859.06) the Act authorizes tax abatements as incentives for the production of new affordable housing in the Rock Creek West, Rock Creek East, Capitol Hill, and Upper Northeast planning areas, identified in the District’s 2019 Housing Equity Report as areas in high-need for affordable housing.
DC Housing Finance Agency (DCHFA)
DCHFA’s Developer Programs
- DCHFA/HUD: Level 1 Risk Share Program The 542(c) Risk Share is a program independent of FHA’s traditional mortgage insurance that provides credit enhancement on HFA originated loans. FHA assumes only a portion of the risk, rather than all. The Risk Sharing Program is entirely affordable production – all projects must qualify as defined in the LIHTC program. The DCHFA’s financing can be used to rehabilitate or construct rental housing (affordable, mixed-income, market rate); cooperatives (Limited Equity); elderly housing; assisted-living facilities; transitional housing.
Federal regulations require that developers/sponsors who utilize MMRB (Multifamily Mortgage Revenue Bond) financing which is funded through the sale of tax-exempt private activity bonds do one of the following:
- Set aside at least 20% of their units for individuals or families earning at or below 50% of the area median income (AMI)
- Set aside at least 40% of their units for individuals or families earning at or below 60% of
• McKinney Act Loan Program
McKinney Act Loans are short-term predevelopment “bridge” loans that can be used to finance the acquisition, pre-development and rehabilitation costs associated with housing development. Non-profit and for-profit developers building affordable housing in the District of Columbia are eligible for McKinney Act Loans.
McKinney Act Loan Program funds may be used for one or the more of the following purposes in furtherance of the DCHFA’s single-family and multifamily programs: Pre-development and development soft costs; acquisition; construction or rehabilitation; down payment closing cost assistance; mortgage interest rate buy down; credit enhancement or loan guarantee; ancillary or functionally related recreational, health, educational or social services facilities that are integral to housing occupied by very low-income persons and families; equity bridge loans; and other forms of assistance as permitted by the Act.
The developer/sponsor must set aside units for households with incomes at or below 50% of the AMI adjusted by family size. A 10-year restricted use covenant, which runs concurrently with the bond and LIHTC affordability covenants, will be placed on the property.
• Mortgage Revenue Bond Program (MMRB)
The Multifamily Mortgage Revenue Bond Program (MMRB) is used to facilitate affordable multifamily rental housing projects. Long-term debt is raised for DCHFA’s financing programs through the sale of tax-exempt and taxable bonds in the municipal bond market. The DCHFA’s financing can be used to rehabilitate or construct: Rental housing (affordable, mixed-income, market rate); cooperatives (Limited Equity); elderly housing; assisted-living facilities; and transitional housing. https://www.dchfa.org/developers/available–programs/mmrb/
DCHFA’s Single Family Programs
DC4ME provides DC government employees a first trust mortgage at a reduced interest rate. The rate comes with or without the option of three percent down payment assistance with a zero percent deferred subordinate loan. DC4ME is offered to current full-time District Government employees, including employees of District Government-based instrumentalities, independent agencies, District of Columbia public charter schools, and organizations, provided the applicant/borrower’s employer falls under the oversight of the Council of the District of Columbia. https://www.dchfa.org/homeownership/available–programs/DC4ME/
• DC Open Doors (DCOD)
DC Open Doors is a key to homeownership in the city. The program offers competitive interest rates and lower mortgage insurance costs on first trust mortgages. Financial assistance through DCOD is provided in the form of a deferred 0% non-amortizing (no monthly payments) loan that is due and payable upon any one of the following: thirty (30) years from the date of loan closing; sale or any transfer (by gift or otherwise) of the property to another person, business, or entity; property ceases to be your principal residence or refinancing your first trust mortgage. You are not required to be a first-time homebuyer to qualify for DC Open Doors. You must, however, be purchasing a home in the District of Columbia to qualify.
• The District of Columbia Mortgage Assistance (DC MAP)
DC MAP provides emergency mortgage support for District homeowners that are experiencing an unanticipated financial hardship due to sudden decrease or loss of income.
• COVID-19 Mortgage Relief
As businesses in the Washington, D.C. region have had to close and/or reduce staff, the District of Columbia Housing Finance Agency recognized an opportunity to provide financial assistance to those impacted by the effects of COVID-19. Through DC MAP (Mortgage Assistance Program) COVID-19, qualified borrowers can receive up to $5,000 monthly in financial assistance paid toward their mortgage for up to 6 months.
• Home Purchase Assistance Program (HPAP)
Development’s (DHCD) first-time homebuyer program HPAP. The program provides down payment and closing cost assistance in the form of interest-free loans to qualified applicants for the purchase of their primary residence, to include single-family houses, condominiums, or cooperative units. See DHCD’s household income standards and assistance amounts.
• Housing Investment Platform Multifamily (HIP Multifamily)
The Housing Investment Platform Multifamily Invest Pilot (HIP Multifamily) is a multifamily investment program designed for the new construction and preservation of workforce rental housing units in DC. HIP Multifamily will provide equity capital to local developers for new construction and preservation of workforce rental housing units in the District.
- Pilot will focus on small buildings (5-50 units)
- Investments will focus on producing housing units targeted to families earning between 60-120% of MFI
- Capital will be provided at a lower preferred return hurdle in exchange for affordability
- HIP Multifamily Investment Terms
- New Construction, Substantial Rehabilitation, Moderate Rehabilitation and MixedIncome Projects
- Completed projects must be affordable to households earning up to 120% of MFI
• Mortgage Credit Certificate (MCC)
The Mortgage Credit Certificate provides an additional incentive for first-time homebuyers to purchase a home in the District of Columbia. An MCC provides qualified borrowers the ability to claim a Federal Tax Credit of 20 percent of the mortgage interest paid during each calendar year. https://www.dchfa.org/homeownership/available–programs/mcc/
• Reverse Mortgage Insurance & Tax Payment Program (ReMIT)
Reverse Mortgage Insurance & Tax Payment Program (ReMIT) allows qualified homeowners to receive financial assistance for delinquent property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, and certain property related expenses paid by your servicer that have put the homeowner at risk of foreclosure. Qualified homeowners can receive up to $25,000 in assistance in the form of a zero-interest, non-recourse loan. https://www.dchfa.org/homeownership/available–programs/remit/
DC Office of Tax and Revenue
• Lower Income Homeownership Exemption Program
The Lower Income Homeownership Exemption program abates real property taxes for the first five (5) years in a home, depending on when the application is made. To qualify, income must fall under the household income limits against all person(s) in the household. The purchase price of the property shall not exceed $516,800.
• Lower Income, Long-Term Homeowners Tax Credit
The Lower Income, Long-Term Homeowners Credit was passed by the DC Council to ease the effect of rising assessments and taxes on low-income residents who have lived in their homes seven consecutive years or more. The current requirements for receiving the credit are:
- You must have owned and occupied the property as your principal residence for at least the last seven (7) consecutive years
- The property must be receiving the Homestead Deduction
- The total household income of all household members of your residence must not exceed the Household Income Limit Table listed in Section D on the Schedule L; and
- Your application must be filed by December 31 of each year.
Interested homeowners should call (202) 727-4TAX (727-4829) for more information.
• Property Tax Deferral
If your total household Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) is $50,000 or less, you may qualify for the low-income or low-income senior citizen property tax deferral. This program allows you to defer payment of increases in your property tax, or (if you are a senior citizen with household AGI of $50,000 or less) to defer your entire annual tax bill. If you have lived in a Class 1 property for a year or more, and your tax is more than 10% higher than the previous year’s tax, you may defer payment on the amount over the 10%.
To be eligible for the property tax deferral program, you must file an application by March 31 to defer the first-half tax or by September 15 to defer the second-half tax and meet the following conditions:
- You must have owned your home for at least 1 year before the application date.
- You must have occupied the home for the 12-month period immediately before the application date.
- You must currently occupy the property.
- The current year’s tax must be more than 10% higher than the previous year’s tax.
- The total of all taxes deferred, plus annual interest of 6% accrued on the deferrals, must not exceed 25% of the property’s assessment for the real property tax year in which the deferrals are provided.
See MyTax.DC.gov and Tax Deferral for Low–Income and Low–Income Senior Property Owners Application on the Real Property Tax Forms page, or call the OTR Customer Service Center at (202) 727-4TAX (727-4829).
• Homestead Deduction
This benefit reduces your real property’s assessed value by $78,700 (savings of $668.95) prior to computing the yearly tax liability. The Homestead benefit is limited to residential property. To qualify:
- An application must be on file with the Office of Tax and Revenue
- The property must be occupied by the owner/applicant and contain no more than five dwelling units (including the unit occupied by the owner) and
- The property must be the principal residence (domicile) of the owner/applicant.
If a properly completed and approved application is filed from October 1 to March 31, the property will receive the Homestead benefit for the entire tax year (and for all tax years in the future). If a properly completed and approved application is filed from April 1 to September 30, the property will receive one-half of the benefit reflected on the second-half tax bill (and full deductions for all tax years in the future).
• Senior Citizen or Disabled Property Owner Tax Relief
When a property owner turns 65 years of age or older, or when he or she is disabled, he or she may file an application immediately for disabled or senior citizen property tax relief. This benefit reduces a qualified property owner’s property tax by 50 percent. If the property owner lives in a cooperative housing association, the cooperative will supply and collect the applications. The following guidelines apply:
- The disabled or senior citizen must own 50 percent or more of the property or cooperative unit.
- The Tax Year 2020 total federal adjusted gross income of everyone living in the property or cooperative unit, excluding tenants, must be less than $139,900 for 2022.
- The same requirements for application, occupancy, ownership, principal residence (domicile), number of dwelling units, cooperative housing associations and revocable trusts apply as in the homestead deduction.
Department of Human Services (DHS)
DHS is working closely with agency partners to establish and implement a coordinated, interagency plan to mitigate housing instability and eviction and to prevent a surge in homelessness. DC has rental assistance programs and housing resources to help residents prevent eviction.
• DC Flex
In 2017, DHS launched a pilot rental subsidy program called DC Flex, which gives lowincome, working families $7,200 to spend per year on rent for four years (or longer if the pilot is extended). Because a family’s ability to pay rent may change as their income and expenses fluctuate month-to-month, participants can choose how much of their DC Flex funds to spend on rent in a given month (up to their total rent amount) until the $7,200 is exhausted. DHS is evaluating the effectiveness of this intervention through a partnership with the Lab at DC.
• Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP)
The Emergency Rental Assistance Program helps District residents earning less than 40% of the Area Median Income (AMI) who are facing housing emergencies, by providing funding for overdue rent including late fees and court costs if a qualified household is facing eviction. The program also supports security deposits and the first month’s rent for residents moving into new apartments. To view eligibility requirements and apply for ERAP see https://erap.dhs.dc.gov.
• Emergency Shelters
Emergency shelters are available for adults who are experiencing homelessness. The Emergency Shelter program provides beds on a first-come, first-served basis, to anyone who does not have a safe place to sleep. Shelters provide a warm and safe place to sleep as well as on-site assessment and case management. Shelters are operated by non-profit organizations under contract with the Department of Human Services.
• Homelessness Prevention Program (HPP)
The Homelessness Prevention Program (HPP) prevents families at risk of becoming homeless from entering the shelter system by providing services and resources that stabilize the family within the community. Diversion Services are also available to assist families who have been displaced from their homes by securing emergency housing outside of shelter while receiving supportive services to help stabilize their housing or until placement in permanent housing.
HPP providers assist families with developing a plan, identifying resources, and setting goals that will help them maintain stable housing with their pre-existing support networks, rather than coming into the shelter system. HPP service providers also offer mediation services and flexible financial assistance. All referrals for HPP are made through Virginia Williams Family Resource Center (VWFRC).
• Housing Choice Vouchers Program (HCVP)
Formerly known as Section 8, HCVP provides rental assistance in the form of a voucher to eligible families so that they can obtain housing from private landlords. A voucher allows people to live where they would like to live. Typically, participants contribute a percentage of their monthly income toward housing costs, with the housing choice voucher program making up the difference.
• Local Rent Subsidy Program (LRSP)
The DC Local Rent Supplement Program (LRSP) began in 2007 and is managed by the DC Housing Authority. To be eligible, applicants must be on the federal Section 8 housing voucher ewaiting list. The program includes two components: tenant-based vouchers modeled on federal Section 8 housing vouchers and sponsor-based agreements that subsidize affordable housing developers and providers, incentivizing the creation of new affordable housing units. By mid-2012, about 1,718 units have been authorized and 1,238 units were occupied. LRSP provides ongoing rental subsidies to help make housing more affordable to extremely low-income families – those with incomes equal to or below 30% AMI. Administered by the District of Columbia Housing Authority, LRSP is designed so that households contribute thirty percent (30%) of their adjusted annual income toward the cost for housing. LRSP provides a monthly rental subsidy that covers the difference between the rent a family can afford to pay, and the cost of renting the unit within DC. https://reports.nlihc.org/rental–programs/catalog/local–rent–supplement–program
• Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH)
Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) is an evidence-based intervention that combines housing assistance through a permanent rental subsidy with voluntary supportive services to address the needs of chronically homeless individuals or families. The services are designed to build independent living and tenancy skills and connect people with community-based health care, treatment, and employment services. To be eligible for PSH, individuals or families must be homeless for more than a year or have had at least four episodes of homelessness in the past three years, and the head of household must have a diagnosed disabling condition. Households are prioritized for the PSH program through the Coordinated Assessment and Housing Placement (CAHP) system.
• Project Rental Assistance Program (PRA)
PRA seeks to expand the supply of supportive housing that promotes community integration for low-income people with disabilities by leveraging mainstream affordable housing, Medicaid, and other community-based supportive service resources. For PRA-funded units, tenants must be extremely low-income (at or below 30 percent of Area Median Income) and at least one adult member of the household must have a disability.
PRA funds can only be used to fund project-based rental operating assistance and allowable administrative costs … but cannot be used to fund any development costs. Eligible properties may be new construction, rehabilitation, or existing properties and owned by a nonprofit, public, or a private entity. Properties must also meet the following requirements:
- Have a minimum of five housing units.
- Have financing or capital investment from a federal, state, or local program such as the LIHTC, HOME Program, National Housing Trust Fund (HTF), Community
Development Block Grant (CDBG), Rural Housing, state bond funds, or other capital funding sources.
- Eligible units in the property cannot already have project-based operating housing subsidy, or had a long-term subsidy attached.
- Properties with existing use restrictions for people with disabilities may not be eligible.
- Projects restricted to persons 62 years and older are not eligible.
• Rapid Re-Housing (RRH)/Family Re-Housing Stabilization Program (FRSP)
The Family Re-Housing Stabilization Program also commonly known as Rapid Re-Housing, is a time-limited housing and support designed to assist families experiencing homelessness to afford dignified and safe housing in the private market. Rental assistance and support services are provided for 12 to 18 months based on the needs of the household. Most families will exit shelter through FRSP. FRSP is available only to families who are connected to another DHS program – like shelter – after they are assessed and determined eligible by Virginia Williams Family Resource Center.
• Stronger Together By Assisting You (STAY DC)
STAY DC is a financial assistance program for D.C. renters and housing providers who are looking for support to cover housing and utility expenses and offset the loss of income. STAY DC is not accepting applications starting October 27, 2021.
To check an application status, see https://dcerapprod.servicenowservices.com/staydc?id=csm_login
• Targeted Affordable Housing (TAH)
Targeted Affordable Housing provides a permanent rental subsidy to households who need assistance obtaining and affording housing – often due to their age or a disabling condition. Households in TAH are often connected to community resources and are able to maintain their housing without intensive case management. Households are prioritized for the TAH program through the Coordinated Assessment and Housing Placement (CAHP) system.
• Transitional Housing for Families Experiencing Homelessness
Transitional housing programs are supportive housing programs that are temporary but designed to be an intermediate step between emergency shelter and permanent housing. Eligibility requirements and programming vary by program, but most programs offer structure, supervision, support, and life skills. Households may only be placed in Transitional Housing through the Coordinated Assessment and Housing Placement (CAHP) system. In addition, families may be referred to Transitional Housing through Virginia Williams Family Resource Center.
DC Housing Authority (DCHA)
• Family Self Sufficiency (FSS)
The Family Self-Sufficiency Program is a five- to seven-year program designed to assist customers achieve economic self-sufficiency. Each participant is assigned to an FSS coordinator who meets regularly with them to help work toward their goals. The intermediary goals are based on three program tracks DCHA offers in addition to a general needs assessment – Education, Employment, and Homeownership. Participants are eligible for Incentive Investments based on enrollment or completion of one of the pathways to success.
- Education – participants can receive up to $2,000 a year towards tuition
- Employment – participants receive $600 for every 12 consecutive months of employment and an income exclusion
- Homeownership – participants can receive up to $10,000 toward their mortgage Customers must be a head of household in DCHA’s Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCVP) or public housing program.
• Public Housing
DC’s public housing, owned and operated by the DC Housing Authority, primarily serves residents with extremely low income, many of whom are elderly & disabled. DCHA:
- Owns 8,300 units in 52 traditional public housing developments serving 50,000 residents
- Occupancy rate of approximately 95 percent.
- Waiting list of 40,000 people closed in 2014.
- Tenants pay 30 percent of their adjusted income towards rent. The average rent paid by a public housing household is approximately $250.
- Has responsibility and financial interest in 23 mixed income properties – 4,500 units, 3,900 including more than 1,230 public housing units of which are affordable – but does not own them directly.
• New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC)
Authorized in the Community Renewal Tax Relief Act of 2000, attracts capital to lowincome communities by providing private investors with a federal tax credit for investments made in businesses or economic development projects located in some of the most distressed communities in the nation – census tracts where the individual poverty rate is at least 20% or where median family income does not exceed 80% of the area median income. The NMTC program is a valuable economic resource that has created over 1000 construction and permanent jobs with over 150 jobs set-aside for DCHA residents.
D.C. Housing Enterprises is a non-profit subsidiary of the District of Columbia Housing
Authority and is one of the few Public Housing Authorities that the Community
Development Financial Institutions Fund has certified as a Community Development Entity. As a CDE, DCHE originates New Markets Tax Credits (NMTC) by providing tax credits to investors in return for equity investments in businesses that serve low-income communities. Click here for the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund’s presentation. https://webserver1.dchousing.org/?page_id=2813
Rental Accommodations Commission
Rental Housing Act of 1985 (DC Law 6-10) as amended. https://dhcd.dc.gov/service/rent–control The Act applies to all rental housing accommodations in DC. Certain parts of the Act, such as eviction protections, apply to all District tenants. Title II of the Act is rent stabilization, which applies to any non-exempt rental unit. All rental units must be registered with the Rental Assistance Division either as subject to rent control or exempt from rent control.
The most common exemptions from rent control are for rental units that are:
- Federally or District-subsidized
- Built after 1975
- Owned by a natural person (i.e., not a corporation) who owns no more than four rental units in DC
- Vacant when the Act took effect
The Rental Accommodations Commission administers rent stabilization. https://dhcd.dc.gov/service/rent–control
Inclusionary Zoning Program (IZ)
IZ requires that 8% – 10%t of the residential floor area be set-aside for affordable units in most new residential development projects of 10 or more units; and rehabilitation projects that are creating 10 or more units in an existing building or addition. IZ homes are apartments for rent or condos/townhomes for sale. IZ rent and purchase prices are governed by the Inclusionary Zoning Maximum Income, Rent and Purchase Price Schedule.
Developers may charge up to the greater rent or purchase price from the schedule in effect on the date. (See Chapter 10, Zoning Regulations.) https://dcoz.dc.gov/sites/default/files/dc/sites/dcoz/publication/attachments/Title%2011%20DCMR%202016%2 0Zoning%20Regulations_7.pdf_
IZ Plus is triggered through a map amendment request and establishes an affordable unit setaside requirement higher than Regular IZ. For IZ Plus to apply, the rezoning must result in a zone that permits higher density development than what was permitted by the former zone and not be located in an area that has an overconcentration of existing affordable housing. The general IZ Plus set-aside requirement for affordable units is a sliding scale up to 20% of the total residential floor area. It is determined by the percent increase from the maximum permitted density of the former zone to the total density built in the new residential development. The intent is to require a significant amount of affordable housing when the maximum permitted density of a property is increased through a map amendment. Map amendments must be not inconsistent with the Comprehensive Plan’s Future Land Use Map.
IZ X-L Phase 1 expanded the regular IZ program to the following previously exempt zones and aligns the IZ set-aside requirements with the recent changes to the building code, which allows buildings to be stick-built up to 85 feet in height.
- R-3 in the Anacostia Historic District;
- RA-5 and RA-10 (Dupont Circle);
- MU-13 in the Georgetown Historic District;
- MU-27 (Naval Observatory);
- NC-6 (Eighth Street) in the Capitol Hill Historic District, and
- Increased the height threshold from 50 ft to 85 ft as it relates to type of construction and the corresponding regular IZ set-side requirement for all zones subject to IZ.
IZ-XL Phase 2 the text amendments apply the regular IZ program to existing non-residential buildings (i.e. office buildings, hotels, etc.) that convert to residential use. Prior to the text amendments, existing buildings converted to residential use were generally exempt from the IZ program. The text amendments apply to conversions when:
- The change to residential use results in 10 or more new dwelling units, and
- The building is located in a zone where IZ already applies.
The text amendments apply regardless of whether the size of the existing building is retained or enlarged. All requirements of the regular IZ program apply.
• IZ Income Requirements
Households that make 50%, 60%, or 80% of the Median Family Income (MFI) may be eligible. Click here to view current incomes, rents and prices. Housing costs for an IZ home may not be more than half (50%) of the household income (before taxes). In addition, recipients cannot be enrolled in a full-time college or university program, must certify that the IZ home is their primary residence and may not own other residential property at the time of lease or purchase.
Other Ways to Create Affordable Housing
Social Housing is a type of housing common in Europe that is gaining attention in the US. Owned and built by the local government or a non-profit organization as part of the public infrastructure, it is defined as a public good, not a commodity, with no private development and no profit. Social housing is designed to be insulated from market pressures, promote racial and economic integration, allow for robust resident governance and insure permanent affordability in the same manner as a LEC.
• Community Land Trusts
“The CLT is a form of shared equity homeownership. Other forms include deed–restricted homeownership and limited equity cooperatives“ and from the LEC definition: “Permanent affordability can be facilitated by establishing the LEC in partnership with a community land trust.”
(Text below is excerpted from DC’s Douglass CLT website https://douglassclt.org/how–do–clts–work)A Community Land Trust (CLT) is a nonprofit organization governed by a board of community members, including CLT residents and public representatives, that acquires and stewards land in trust for the permanent benefit of low-income communities.
These community-held assets remain affordable for generations and can be put to a variety of uses, including homeownership, rental housing, locations for small businesses, cultural institutions, farms and more. This is done by guaranteeing low, stable cost of real estate, as well as post-purchase stewardship for lessee members. The location and population the land trust serves usually determines how it operates — CLTs can operate as independent nonprofits, as a part of a larger nonprofit, or as part of a local government.
The primary way CLTs secure non-stop affordability is to separate ownership of the land from the buildings atop the land. The CLT takes title to the land and issues a Land Lease back to the owner of the buildings (this can be housing, commercial space for small businesses and nonprofits, etc.) that incorporates a covenant to ensure lasting affordability for low-income persons. In situations where is it not feasible to separate ownership of the land from ownership of the building, CLTs can employ other legal mechanisms to retain affordability in perpetuity and community control, notably a Deed Restricted Affordability Covenant. The developer or owner of the building signs a legally binding covenant agreeing to lasting affordability for low-income persons (or other community benefit as negotiated). The CLT ensures that the property is being used for the community-purpose through this covenant, while providing ongoing stewardship as well. The land lease, or affordability covenant, is a robust legal mechanism that assures residents/occupants of a stable housing/commercial space cost, at a price lower than they could otherwise afford, in addition to maintenance assistance in the form of stewardship services, while assuring the community as a whole is a place that low-income families and local DC small businesses will be able to afford, for generations to come.
The Douglass CLT was incorporated September 17, 2019, as an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit membership organization operating across the Douglass Commonwealth/District of Columbia, but initially focused east of the Anacostia River. Establishment of a communitycontrolled land trust was a key recommendation of the 11th Street Bridge Park’s Equitable Development Plan, and City First Homes (CFH) initially incubated the CLT initiative. Both entities agreed from the start that any newly formed community land trust would be completely independent and community controlled. Douglass CLT’s values include:
- Right to stay and thrive
- Community control
- Permanent affordability for housing
- High quality, healthy housing
- Individual/family asset building
- Operational excellence
Special City Initiatives
In 2015, Mayor Muriel Bowser created a Housing Preservation Strike Force to respond to concerns about preserving existing affordable housing that was at risk. It was an 18-member team, chaired by then DHCD Director Polly Donaldson, and comprised of District housing experts and selected stakeholders from the public. In November 2016, it issued a report with six recommendations on how to preserve affordable housing stock in DC. Housing Preservation Strike Force Final Report
• Vacant to Vibrant DC, a five-step action plan, launched in December 2017, details how the balance of DHCD’s vacant property inventory will be transformed into vibrant and productive solutions, such as workforce housing and creative green space, and spur economic development.
• Neighborhood Prosperity Fund
NPF incentivizes community development, economic growth, and job creation by leveraging local funds to provide financing for projects that attract private investment to distressed communities. Grant funds support architectural and engineering costs, construction costs, tenant improvements, historic preservation building improvements to maintain compliance with applicable laws, development analysis, rent abatement and/or tenant concessions for up to 3 years to stabilize market rent. The minimum request per application is $250,000. In 2022, $4 million available for grants; deadline for applications is March 25, 2022. https://dmped.dc.gov/page/neighborhood–prosperity–fund–npf
- Limited–Equity Cooperative Task Force was created in May 2018 to provide the DC City Council with policy recommendations on how the District can help in the formation of new limited-equity cooperatives (LECs) and help existing LECs succeed. A “Limited equity cooperative” is one in which a government agency or nonprofit organization limits the resale price of membership shares to keep the housing affordable to incoming low- and moderate-income members. Cooperative members/shareholders are entitled to live in the property based on the terms of a proprietary lease or occupancy agreement. District of Columbia Limited Equity Cooperative Task Force for 2018-2019
Final Report, October 2019
- The DMPED Real Estate Project Pipeline provides stakeholders with real time updates on the status of real estate projects located across the District of Columbia.
- Quick summary of city housing programs: